The Rev. Prof. Steven Noll on the Primate’s Communique

General Convention

Prof. Noll was formerly a professor at Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry in Ambridge PA – which is the most conservative of all the Episcopal Seminaries. He is now the Chancellor of an Anglican university in Uganda.

Prof Noll has written a piece in which he tries to explain fully what the Communique from the Primates is asking of the Episcopal Church:

“In their ‘Key Recommendations,’ the Primates ‘emphasise the need to affirm the Windsor Report (TWR) and the standard of teaching commanding respect across the Communion (most recently expressed in Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference.’ The placement of this statement as the first and foremost of the ‘Foundations’ gives it a prominence that simply cannot be avoided.

True, they name The Windsor Report first and Lambeth 1.10 second. Someone may say: ‘I can agree with TWR without agreeing to Lambeth 1.10.’ Well, you may say so, but this is not what the Primates are saying. The Recommendation intentionally couples TWR as the practical outworking of the Lambeth Resolution. Lest there be any doubt about how they read TWR, they include this statement.

11. What has been quite clear throughout this period is that the 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10 is the standard of teaching which is presupposed in the Windsor Report and from which the primates have worked. This restates the traditional teaching of the Christian Church that ‘in view of the teaching of Scripture, [the Conference] upholds faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union, and believes that abstinence is right for those who are not called to marriage’, and applies this to several areas which are discussed further below. The Primates have reaffirmed this teaching in all their recent meetings, and indicated how a change in the formal teaching of any one Province would indicate a departure from the standard upheld by the Communion as a whole.

This call to affirm and conform to biblical, historic, ecumenical and Communion teaching is, it seems to me, central to any response by TEC to the Primates.”

Prof. Noll goes on to speak of his discomfort with the writings of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who he believes does not wholeheartedly support the statements in Lambeth 1.10 as well as the words of the Episcopal Church’s Presiding Bishop who clearly disagrees with the statements and is hoping to find a way to change them.

I’m struck that there is a spectrum of interpretations emerging about what exactly is being asked of the Episcopal Church. The interpretations range from that of our Presiding Bishop to that of Prof. Noll’s.

Though people are telling me that we in the Episcopal Church are being asked a clear question, I’m afraid I’m not seeing exactly what that question is yet…

Read the rest here: Theological Writings, Papers, etc. – American Anglican Council Live Website

The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...


  1. “Someone may say: ‚ÄòI can agree with TWR without agreeing to Lambeth 1.10.‚Äô Well, you may say so, but this is not what the Primates are saying.”
    First things first. We cannot possibly agree that any Lambeth resolution is official teaching without also making some significan changes in Anglican polity. Simply because the Primates have said it does not make it so. And simply because the Primates believe they have the authority to make such declarations does not make it so.
    We’ve now heard our PB state that she believes the ABC will go along with what the Primates say even if it doesn’t square with historical precedent. So why is no one challenging the ABC or the Primates?

  2. Nick, does the ambiguous nature of the question – as you see it – determine the outcome of our response? Does the fact that the Archbishop of Canterbury and some of the Primates are “cherry-picking” the full text of Lambeth 1998 1.10 as the basis for forwarding their recommendations to the Episcopal Church make their recommendations any more just and/or reasonable? When, and by whom, does it become ethical and appropriate to say to ++ Rowan, the Archbishop of Nigeria, and other actors inside and outside of The Episcopal Church that they are acting beyond the traditional boundaries of Anglicanism? Moreover, isn‚Äôt it clear that on some, if not many levels, the requests being made from Canterbury and from Dar Es Salaam are infractions to the Episcopal Church’s democratic polity and collegial nature between its House of Bishops and House of Deputies. Are we as a church going to absent ourselves from making prophetic responses because we don‚Äôt understand the nature of what we are being asked to do?
    I respectfully suggest that exploring the ambiguity of the question should not be the most important factor in determining the Epsicopal Church’s response to the events that occurred in Tanzania and may occur in the upcoming House of Bishops meeting. The Executive Council seemed to state that they wish to study and act upon the key responsibilities of the Primates‚Äô Communiqu√©. We, as a church, (laity and ordained alike) need to choose whether or not we are going to cede some of our provincial authority over to Anglican bishops who we will authorize to make decisions outside of the boundaries of The Episcopal Church’s Constitution and Canons. We ultimately and coincidentally, through our General Convention, should be able to ask parishioners at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Phoenix and elsewhere to mute our advocacies for LGBT persons and their supporters. That is the dilemma as I observe it in a much broader sense and from my biased progressive Episcopalian point of view.

  3. Alice C. Linsley says

    Regardlesss of how one may spin the question, the Primates are clear on this: TEC must repent for there to be restored communion.

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